A new movie ‘Mine Your Own Business’ details how environmental campaigner have stopped development in parts of the world that crave development. How they have denied poor people opportunity.
The same activists have also run campaigns against foreigners who have dared develop projects in remote and environmentally sensitive parts of the world. In the case of Richard Ness they are destroying his life.
As his son Eric explains at RichardNess.org, a website dedicated to his father:
“My father, Richard Ness is currently on trial in Indonesia for a crime that never happened and is currently facing ten years in prison and a US$ 60,000 fine. He is accused of polluting the environment and causing illnesses when over 30 independent studies* have repeatedly confirmed that there is no environmental damage and most importantly medical analysis have established that there is no incidence of arsenic or mercury poisoning among the local community.”
I wrote about the case a year ago in a blog piece entitled ‘Did Newmont Do It?’.
Just the other day I received an email from Richard Ness:
I found your article of November 16, of last year very interesting (sorry it took me a year to find it on the web). While missing a few details which are hard to figure out in this part of the world, your write up is very close to reality. Your blog is one of the best short analysis I have seen on the subject.
With regard to your comment : “In many ways it is a pity the case is not going to trial, so all the evidence could be laid out. But then again, who gets a fair trial in Indonesia?”
For your information, the case did go to trial and the trial is still continuing after over one year in court. What you picked up on as the bases for your story was a civil charge for which Newmont basically agreed to form a foundation to fund a scientific panel to conduct independent monitoring for 10 years to prove to the world Buyat Bay was not, nor is polluted.
What has came out so far in court has been a sad story of manipulation of people and communities funded by a political party through select NGO’s. Even the baby the group was using as a “poster child” was blocked from proper medical treatment so they could parade her around as a banner of pollution.
That poor baby died as a result of lack of care and treatment from a dermatitis and upper respiratory infection. After the babies death, it was found that the prescribed medications for a common illness were never administered.
What has come out from court ordered resampling of the bay was that the Waters of Buyat are cleaner then on average, the Atlantic, Pacific and English Channel.
My oldest son, Eric who lives in the USA has created a blog to keep friends and the public up to speed on the latest case developments. The site he created is at www.richardness.org. You may find it interesting reading if you have the time as it bridges the time period of your last Novembers blog until now of ongoing developments in the case.
All the best,
Newmont Minahasa Raya”
I am reminded of some words from Phelim McAleer:
“Remove the collar from the man with the evangelical zeal and make him a member of an environmental organisation and suddenly we start paying serious attention to these modern day prophets of doom.
Once, according to our religious leaders, it was our sins that were leading us to damnation. Now, according to our environmental leaders, it is polluting actions of man that will lead to our damnation.
How little we have all progressed and how we still love to listen to harbingers of doom would be mildly amusing if it were not for the pernicious effects of such beliefs on the poorest people in some of the poorest countries in the world.”
…and Richard Ness.
* Including reports from the United Nations World Health Organization, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia and National Institute for Minamata Disease. The CSIRO report can be downloaded from RichardNess.org, but beware it is 16MB.